Couples who learn the skills of ‘arguing well‘ not only reduce conflict in their homes but can also live 10 years longer than couples who don’t.
We can achieve this by understanding what the argument is truly about and how we can end that repetitive argument for good.
Every couple has disagreements, but science shows that how two people argue has a big effect on both their relationships and their health.
The researchers found that analyzing just the first three minutes of the couple’s argument could predict their risk for divorce over the next six years.
In many ways, this is great news for couples because it gives you a place to focus. The most important moments between you and your partner during a conflict are those first few minutes when the conflict arises.
Encourage your clients to focus on their own body responses and behaviors during that time, and it likely will change the dynamics of the relationship for the better.
Many of us are reactive during difficult conversations. Our nervous system becomes dysregulated. This causes our heart rate speeds up. We might start to sweat. We start shallow breathing. Our tone may be snappy or condescending.
All our bodies know is: we sense danger. And our responses in conflict can clearly show that.
In this survival state, we can be reactive, say things we don’t mean, and end up recycling old hurts in the relationship.
Tips to share with your clients during conflict in their relationship:
- Stay in the present: leave past hurts out of the present conflict
- Get out of right – wrong mentality because the Win – Lose response means the couple loses trust and connection over the long term.
- Getting both sides to hold the intention to commit to understanding each other.
Fighting with your partner is not a bad thing….
- Studies about conflict reveal there can be power within an argument to help couples improve their relationship
- It takes the focus off the conflict and brings more attention to the repair
- Brings in the ability to create that momentum for change
Happy, healthy couples are friends and they typically don’t become emotionally dysregulated in an argument. Healthy couples also repair directly following the conflict in meaningful ways. This builds that solid foundation of trust so that life’s challenges don’t pull them apart.
As a couple’s therapist, you are the guide with the couples you are working with to get the beginning right so the discussion can be constructive instead of damaging.
That the key points they want to communicate can be heard, instead of met with defensiveness.
Research supports relationships affect our health and the stress of unhappy relationships actually affects our immune system, can even increase our inflammation in the body. We know from research like that, it truly is worth the effort.
Can you identify what may be going on behind the scenes with the couples you are working with as they describe their most common conflicts?